thames house mi5
The MI5 headquarters at Thames House in LondonReuters

MI5 has been named the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employer of the year by Stonewall in its latest Top 100 Employers list. The organisation was hailed for its advances, having only allowed lesbian and gay people to join 25 years ago.

The list also included a number of local government institutions, with the National Assembly of Wales and Leicestershire County Council both making the top 10. Other branches of the security services included in the Top 100 are the Royal Navy at number 10 and the Army at 32. MI6 came 36th. MI5 director general Andrew Parker said of the accolade: "Much of MI5's work keeping the country safe goes on by necessity out of view. So I'm delighted we can be publicly recognised as such an inclusive and welcoming place to work.

Stonewall's Top 10 employers

  1. MI5
  2. Lloyds Banking Group
  3. National Assembly of Wales
  4. B3Living
  5. Pinsent Masons
  6. Tower Hamlets Homes
  7. Leicestershire City Council
  8. Metropolitan
  9. Clifford Chance
  10. Royal Navy

"MI5's success in protecting the country depends on our staff's commitment to the mission and to our enduring values of teamwork, professionalism and innovation. People can only give the best they can give when they feel supported, valued, and treated with respect by their colleagues.

"Diversity is vital for MI5, not just because it's right that we represent the communities we serve, but because we rely on the skills of the most talented people whoever they are, and wherever they may be.

"This accolade from Stonewall is a great acknowledgement of continued progress we have made over recent years in ensuring we draw on the widest possible pool of talent in our vital work."

In the past six years, MI5 has made a remarkable rise from 134th place to 1st. The survey talked to more than 60,000 people at more than 400 organisations.

Ruth Hunt, Stonewall chief executive, said of MI5's number one position: "This is an amazing achievement and demonstrates just how seriously diversity and inclusion is taken... We're thrilled to see such a commitment to lesbian, gay, bi and trans colleagues, but we also know that there is still lots to do."

"Those organisations that are 'getting it right' are not only improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff, stakeholders, clients and customers, but are also reaping business benefits. We know that people perform better when they can be themselves, and it's been proven that diversity among staff leads to a more productive, positive and creative workplace environment."